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No. 11 Patriots takes down No. 10 Louisburg 71-62

January 21, 2016

By: CHRIS PRIDE

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s basketball coach Kenny Wade has patiently waited for his team to play the type of defense like it did during Wednesday night’s 71-62 Region X, Division II victory over conference-leading Louisburg College (N.C.).

The Patriots limited a top-5 offense in the NJCAA, Division II to 26 second-half points and used a 9-1 run over the final 80 seconds to tighten things up in the regular season standings. The win should vault the No. 11 Patriots ahead of the No. 10 Hurricanes in the next rankings, while it also handed Louisburg its first loss in the conference. That now gives the top four teams, including PHCC, one conference loss.

“Our coach preaches defense and we go out there and execute,” said sophomore and Richmond, Va. native Jerel Jennings, who led the Patriots with 17 points and four assists.

The lead changed hands seven times in the second half as the Patriots used a 5-0 spurt with 5:30 left to take a 58-52 lead. Thomas East’s bucket and a foul shot followed by a Jennings field goal gave the Patriots the largest lead of the half. They were then able to hold it the rest of the way, executing to near perfection inside the final minute to preserve the win.

Halifax County High School product Keyshawn Johnson scored a nice driving up-and-under layup through the key to make it 64-61, with under two minutes remaining. Sophomore Henry Butler, from Culpepper, Va., hit three free throws and scored an easy bucket underneath out of a time out, all inside the final 30 seconds. Butler accounted for five of the points in the run and finished with 12.

PHCC scored 42 of its points in the paint and also hauled down 16 offensive rebounds, finishing with 36 total. Wade said the victory in many aspects Wednesday was another step for the team in establishing it as a national contender.

“I felt like it could have gone either way; they could do it or we could do it,” said Wade of the final minutes. “If they would’ve done it, I have no doubt my guys would’ve fought right back. The fortunate thing is we did it and were good enough to hold it.”

Offensive balance was again vital for PHCC. It had a total of 11 players score and three in double figures. The Patriots (14-2, 7-1) shot 47 percent from the field and were 4-for-10 from 3-point range.

Finland-born Henri Ventoniemi was the third Patriot scorer in double figures, finishing with 10 points and four rebounds. The trio of top scorers combined to shoot 56 percent from the field.

PHCC got off to a hot 9-2 start as Ventoniemi hit a corner 3 before the lead was pushed to eight – the largest of the game – just past the five-minute mark. Louisburg had an answer for most anything in the first half, tying the game with a 9-1 run before taking its first lead at 19-18. There would be four ties and three lead changes over the final five and half minutes, leading to the teams entering the break locked at 36.

Louisburg’s CJ Hill led all scorers with 18 points. No other Hurricane player, however, found double figures. The Patriots defense forced more than 10 turnovers, recording eight steals, while keeping the Hurricanes 26 points below its season average.

The win is the fourth straight for PHCC as it has off until Jan. 25 when it hosts Guilford Tech Community College at 7 p.m.

Filed under: Men's Basketball

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